Molecular and genetic epidemiology are emerging innovative fields of research in which molecular, genetic and biochemical concepts and techniques are incorporated into epidemiologic studies focusing on complex diseases. This is made possible by recent rapid technological advances in high-throughput laboratory assays that measure biomarkers in biological samples.
Epidemiology has been proven valuable to identify associations between exposure and disease, in particular because it enables us to study long-term effects of ‘normal’ variation in exposure in populations. However, traditional epidemiology does so without obtaining information of the biological processes that underlie these associations. Molecular and genetic epidemiology have the power to open up this ‘black box’.
In this module, students will be familiarized with the different types of molecular biomarkers that can be used in epidemiological studies, including those measured with novel high-throughput –omics technologies. They will learn the pros and cons of different study designs used in molecular and genetic epidemiology, including Mendelian randomization. Students will be introduced to the knowledge that can be generated through molecular and genetic epidemiology. This course is an introductory course to a complex, but promising field of research.